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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 05 Oct 2018

Research article | 05 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Cloud base height retrieval from multi-angle satellite data

Christoph Böhm1, Odran Sourdeval2, Johannes Mülmenstädt2, Johannes Quaas2, and Susanne Crewell1 Christoph Böhm et al.
  • 1Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • 2Institute of Meteorology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany

Abstract. Clouds are a key modulator of the Earth energy budget at the top of the atmosphere and at the surface. While the cloud top height is operationally retrieved with global coverage, only few methods have been proposed to determine cloud base heights (zbase) from satellite measurements. This study presents a new approach to retrieve cloud base heights using the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) on the Terra satellite. It can be applied if some cloud gaps occur within the chosen distance of typically 10km. The MISR cloud base height (MIBase) algorithm then determines zbase from the ensemble of all MISR cloud top heights retrieved at a 1.1-km horizontal resolution in this area. MIBase is first calibrated using one year of ceilometer data from more than 1500 sites within the continental United States of America. The 15th percentile of the cloud top height distribution within a circular area of 10km radius provides the best agreement with the ground-based data. The thorough evaluation of the MIBase product zbase with further ceilometer data yields a correlation coefficient of about 0.66. For a three year period, the median zbase is generated globally on a 0.25°×0.25° grid. It shows plausible results in particular over sea as well as for seasonal differences. The potential of the full 16 years of MISR data is demonstrated for the southeast Pacific revealing inter-annual variability in zbase in accordance with reanalysis data.

Christoph Böhm et al.
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Christoph Böhm et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The cloud base height (CBH) is important for air traffic, to describe the energy budget of the Earth and for other applications. Ground-based measurements of CBH are only punctually available, and mostly limited to land. A powerful tool for global coverage are satellites. While the cloud top height is derived operationally, the derivation of CBH from space is more difficult as the clouds hide their base. Here, we present a method to retrieve the base from multi-angle satellite data.
The cloud base height (CBH) is important for air traffic, to describe the energy budget of the...